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Panda Updates – Monday, April 30

Have you ever wondered why it sometimes takes the giant pandas a little longer than usual before they are out in their habitats in the morning? One of the possible reasons is that they may be passing a mucous stool or mucoid. Mucous stools are not an uncommon occurrence with giant pandas. Scientists aren’t sure why it occurs, but every so often giant pandas (and red pandas) will shed the mucus lining of their gut and pass that mucus-taffy-like lining through their intestinal tract. This behavior has also been documented in wild giant pandas, so we know it’s normal. When a giant panda passes a mucous stool, the whole process usually takes about six hours. We know this from previous research studies where we’ve determined what enters the stomach comes out the other end about six hours later! When giant pandas (and red pandas) pass mucous stools, they sleep a little longer and aren’t interested in doing much. Once the panda has passed a mucous stool, they will quickly return to their normal behaviors of eating, sleeping, and playing. We do not see mucous stools in cubs, as their diet is mainly mother’s milk, but we start to see them with sub-adults once their diet becomes almost exclusively bamboo. That all being said, Ya Lun has reached another “milestone,” because yesterday she passed her first mucous stool. Moral of the story: If you hear from one of our wonderful Docents or Volunteers that one of the pandas is “sleeping in,” now you know what may be going on! Give it a little time and check back, because that panda will soon be up and eating fresh bamboo, waiting for your visit!
Jen W.
Keeper III, Mammals

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